Everything you Should Know About Digital Dental X-rays
When patients come into our office for the first time, we’ll often have to take a dental x-ray of their teeth if they show signs of decay. These x-rays are often taken again before any major dental work needs to be done or at routine cleanings.
The x-rays allow our team to find any issues that you may be having with your:
- Soft tissue
Dental X-Rays: What are They and Why Do You Need Them?
Do you really need dental x-rays? It depends. There are a lot of reasons that we recommend taking x-rays, but before we get into the fine details, let’s discuss what these x-rays actually are.
When we look in your mouth, we’ll often see decay and potential cavities, but we can’t know for sure how bad the decay is without an x-ray.
The procedure is simple:
- We'll lay a lead vest over your chest and lap
- We'll place the x-ray machine on one side of your mouth
- We'll place a device in your mouth
The dental assistant or hygienist will position everything and then take the x-ray. Multiple x-rays may be required, and the hygienist will often reposition everything to take an image from a different angle.
We ask that you remain as still as possible while the process takes place.
The lead vest will protect you from potential radiation exposure, and the whole process is over in mere minutes. We'll then analyze the x-rays to ensure their accuracy and analyze your images to find decay, cavities and any other issues that you may have with your teeth.
We may recommend dental x-rays for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- You're a new patient of ours and we want to assess your dental health, especially if we don’t have any previous x-rays to go off of in the last six months to a year.
- The last time you had a dental x-ray was over a year ago – your teeth change a lot in a year.
As a cosmetic dental office we’ll often recommend x-rays if we’re treating any major dental issues and want to track any progression that has taken place. Several things will play a role in us recommending dental x-rays, including your oral health, age, whether you have any form of oral disease, or if you suffer from gum disease, tooth decay or previous dental emergencies.
We also want to address any recurrent cavities with:
If you have impeccable oral health and haven’t had cavities in years, we may even be able to forego your dental x-rays. But in most cases, you’ll need to have your mouth x-rayed at least once per year so that we can address any dental issues.
There are also multiple types of x-rays that we may take depending on what our team decides is recommended.
Types of Dental X-rays We Might Recommend
While there are multiple types of x-rays we can take, the two most common are:
- Intraoral: The type of x-ray that we take 99% of the time will be intraoral. This x-ray takes an in-depth image of the interior of the mouth to check for tooth rot, decay and cavities. We'll also be able to look at the root of the tooth and the bone, too.
- Extraoral: This type of x-ray focuses on your skull and jaw. We're not able to view the same level of detail with this type of x-ray as we are with an intraoral image. For example, we wouldn’t be able to view cavities, but we would be able to examine issues with the temporomandibular joint and surrounding bone structure.
For most of our patients, we’ll use one of many intraoral options, including:
- Bitewing. A common option for examining between teeth. This is an x-ray that requires you to bite down and examine the areas between the teeth for cavities and alignment. When you have crowns placed on your teeth, the bitewing allows us to make sure that the crown is aligned properly.
- Occlusal. If we need an in-depth image of the upper and bottom teeth, this the type of x-ray we’ll recommend. This allows us to view all teeth with one image to look for any issues with alignment or your palate.
- Panoramic. If you have issues with your sinus or nerves, we’ll often take a panoramic x-ray that allows us to identify any potential issues with your jaw, teeth or surrounding structure.
- Periapical. An x-ray that takes a full image of the tooth from the crown to the gums.
While we normally take intraoral images, we may need to take extraoral if you have issues with TMJ or potential jaw structure concerns.
Benefits of Having Dental X-rays Done
Dental x-rays are beneficial for a lot of reasons, but it’s recommended by us as a key method of ensuring that we catch any potential dental concerns early on. There are times when dental issues can’t be seen with the naked eye, so while everything looks fine to the dentist, there’s a hidden issue that needs to be addressed.
For example, we’ll need to take x-rays to view potential infections, tumors and some forms of decay. For teeth whitening we want take X-rays to diagnose any cavities that need to be repaired prior to whitening.
When we have a clear picture of your oral health, we’ll be able to treat issues early on so that they don’t progress to tooth extractions.
There are also other times when we may recommend x-rays because they help us:
- Track your dental health after a procedure to ensure everything is healing
- Detect the presence of wisdom teeth and discuss removing them as needed with or without sedation medication
- Allow us to examine root positions prior to Invisalign
- Monitor bone levels around existing implants
Complications with dental health are often caused by waiting. When you wait to have procedures performed, it may lead to more complex treatment requirements. Our staff is highly trained and takes all of the recommended safety precautions when taking x-rays.
Dental X-ray Safety Risks
Safety remains a top priority for us and our patients. You have enough to worry about in life and don’t need to add dental x-rays to the list. The main concerns that we hear from patients are often cancer-related.
Patients fear that they’ll either get cancer or experience tumor growth from the x-rays.
But studies from Yale University found that dental x-rays only accounted for up to 5% of all manmade radiation.
Additional studies and examination of the Yale study by a team in Quebec verified that there was also no correlation between x-rays and brain tumors. So, even a decade after the original study was published, we’re seeing researchers back the use of x-rays and verify their overall safety.
Digital x-rays have very low levels of radiation, which is deemed safe for both children and adults. We'll also cover you with a lead blanket that blocks the radiation even further. In terms of exposure to radiation, of all the manmade radiation you’ll experience in life, some of the lowest will come from x-rays.
Imagine having a CT scan of your entire body. When compared to a dental x-ray, the CT scan produces 800 times more radiation. Dental x-rays produce the same amount of radiation that you would experience on a 1-to-2-hour flight.
So, to help put your mind at ease:
- Dental x-rays produce very low levels of radiation
- You're exposed to more radiation in a plane for over 3 hours than in our dental chairs
- Other medical x-rays, such as chest or skull x-rays, produce far more radiation than their dental counterparts
- Researchers believe that dental x-rays do not cause any type of tumor growth in the brain
While we would love to not have to do any x-rays in our office, it is a simple necessity in the world of dentistry. We need to have a clear picture of your teeth and any potential decay that has occurred.
Oftentimes, dentists can’t see the true extent of damage to a tooth or the underlying issue without this advanced imaging.
If we didn’t use x-rays, we would be going into every procedure trying to guess what’s wrong with your teeth. The end result would be highly inefficient dentistry that would allow for dental issues to go undetected and have the opportunity to progress.
Digital X-rays: Why We Recommend Them
Radiography has advanced, and we’re at the stage where digital x-rays are superior compared to radiography. There are a lot of reasons why we at Lighthouse Dental Centre have chosen to go with digital x-rays over their radiography counterparts:
- Rapid results: We know that coming to the dentist isn’t at the top of our clients’ priorities list. Digital x-rays eliminate the long imaging time so that we can see your x-rays right on a computer screen. Immediate results allow the dentist to analyze the images and recommend treatment quickly.
- Higher accuracy: We believe that our patients deserve the best technology when they go to the dentist. With digital x-rays, we’re able to view your x-rays in far superior quality so that we have a greater understanding of your oral health.
- Cost-effective: Not only are digital x-rays fast and accurate, but they’re also less expensive. We don’t have to print out the x-rays, allowing us to save both time and money on your dental imaging.
- Safety: Radiography is known for having higher levels of radiation, which is a constant, valid concern fo patients. Digital x-rays are a much safer option that is more accurate.
We want the best for all of our patients at our office, and the best almost always means choosing the latest and greatest technology. Digital x-rays offer the opportunity for us to offer you a faster, more efficient service while also keeping costs down.
X-rays are always a valid concern for dental patients, but they’re also a very valuable tool in diagnosing issues and planning strategy within our wide range of services. When focusing on the health of our patients, we opt for digital x-rays because of the high-end safety they offer on top of the in-depth imaging.
Plus, the rapid results allow us to make quick treatment recommendations so that our patients can have the best smile in town.
When x-rays are required, we take every possible measure to protect our patients and ensure their comfort. Don't worry, x-rays are fast and efficient while also offering insight into your dental history and needs. Book your screening appointment today!